The Senators received an update on reports of war crimes committed by Russians
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with members of the Committee, hosted Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin to receive an update on Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, and specifically on reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The meeting comes before tomorrow’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Holding Russian Kleptocrats and Human Rights Violators Accountable for their Crimes Against Ukraine,” featuring testimony from Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
Durbin and Graham were also joined by Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
“Perpetrators committing unspeakable war crimes, such as those unfolding before our very eyes in Ukraine, must be held to account,” said Durbin. “Today’s meeting reaffirmed the importance of holding Vladimir Putin and his cowardly enablers accountable for well documented war crimes committed in Ukraine. Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to shed a light on these atrocities and the need for accountability.”
“Now is the time to stand by Ukraine, not just on the battlefield but also in the courtroom,” said Graham. “We look forward to assisting Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin in every way possible to hold Putin’s Russia accountable for war crimes being committed in Ukraine on an industrial scale.
“This is a defining moment for European stability and world values. There can be no forgiving and forgetting when it comes to the war crimes being committed by Putin in Ukraine, for if we go down that path, we will legitimize the darkest instincts of man.”
Photos of the meeting are available here.
Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Durbin, Graham, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the bipartisan Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act – which updates the current war crimes statute to enable prosecution of war criminals in the United States regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator or victim. The bill was signed into law by President Biden. Congress also made changes to existing law that enabled the United States to provide resources and share information with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assist with ongoing prosecutions in the Russia Ukraine conflict. Durbin-authored legislation restricting U.S. recognition of any forcibly annexed areas of Ukraine by Russia also passed as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
Durbin and Graham also recently led a bipartisan letter to President Biden urging his Administration to support the ICC investigation into the atrocities committed in Ukraine by implementing bipartisan legislation enacted in the last Congress. This letter came after the March 17 news that the ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes in Ukraine.